The Asian country of Bhutan has had its first confirmed case of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in two years, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reported.

The outbreak occurred at the Thimphu City Camp in Motithang. The virus killed 16 chickens in a small backyard flock, while the remaining 21 birds in the flock were stamped out. The first poultry death at the camp was reported by one of the owners on April 3, after which a team from the National Centre for Animal Health (NCAH) visited the site for investigation, according to the Bhutan Ministry of Agriculture and Forests. Samples were analyzed at a national laboratory and at an OIE reference laboratory in India, and those samples tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza.

The camp site has more than 30 semi-permanent structures with six households rearing local breed poultry birds for egg production. 

Prior to the confirmation of avian influenza, disease preventive measures like disinfection, decontamination and surveillance of the nearby poultry farms were already in place. A team was also present to follow up on any new cases, while another team was sent outside the affected area to avoid further expansion. To date, no further cases have been confirmed.

While talking to the poultry owners, they shared that their parent stock were introduced two to four years ago, and were reared in the camp.

The movement of poultry and poultry products from the camp has been restricted and awareness is being created to area residents.